Letter regarding National Lockdown due to COVID-19 - 05/01/2021
Updated: Jan 6
Dear Parents and Carers,
Sewell Park Academy & the National Lockdown due to COVID-19
Firstly, thank you for all of your continued support in these challenging times. I know that events have been rapidly changing with schools over the previous few weeks, and I thank you and the staff for their perseverance and resilience in the face of these adaptations.
Last night, the Prime Minister announced that, to reduce transmission of the new strain of the virus, all schools would revert to remote learning. This would be for all students, except those children of critical workers or those considered the most vulnerable, until February half term. I know that you will agree with me that school is the best place for our students to receive their education, but it is a positive that we now have clarity on the situation for the remainder of this half term. As they have done previously, all members of staff at Sewell Park will continue to support our students diligently throughout this time.
I will apologise in advance for the length of this letter, however, I hope it addresses many of the key concerns and logistical challenges moving forwards.
a) Sewell Park Academy provision for children of Critical Workers and Vulnerable Students
Throughout this half term, we will continue to provide provision for students who are the most vulnerable, alongside that for those children of critical workers. If you have not already made contact with us, but would like to take up this opportunity, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01603 411721. In order to ensure safety with the number of students on the site, it is important we know in advance if you are planning for students to attend. Please note, provision for children of critical workers is only accessible on days when parents are working.
Students will be based with members of teaching staff, with ICT facilities, to be supported with the remote learning programme. They will remain in the same group to ensure the risk of transmission of any virus is minimised. Students will attend for the standard school day (8.40 am to 3.05 pm) and should enter through the St Clements Hill gate (next to the Chestnut Nursery), before waiting in the Maths quad. From Monday 11th January, these students will not be required to attend in uniform until the reopening for all students.
b) Free School Meal provision
At the time of writing, the Government has stated that they are not planning on offering the Free School Meal voucher scheme as during the first lockdown however, together with Norfolk County Council and Boudica Schools Trust, from Monday 11th January we will be able to provide Free School Meal vouchers for those students who qualify, using the Edenred system exactly as we did over the Christmas holiday. These will be emailed to you every two weeks. Due to demand, and due to all eligible students receiving vouchers, from next week, the canteen will be closed from Monday 11th January therefore, all students attending school will need to bring a packed lunch and drink in with them each day.
For this week, students who are entitled to Free School Meals can enter the site through the St Clements Hill gate and collect their lunch from the external window of the canteen. This must be between 12 pm and 12.30 pm and they must leave the site following collection.
c) Remote educational provision
This week, as per the original arrangements sent to you all, students in Year 11 will be receiving ‘live’ teaching from staff members with provision for other year groups in the remote learning sections of Google Classroom. From Monday 11th January, for the 5 weeks up to February half term, the provision will be a combination of teacher instruction of new material, linked remote learning provision and a review/feedback on the work covered. This will be the provision for each year group.
If a student has any issues with logins or access to remote learning, parents or students can contact the IT helpdesk. This can be done by the “IT Support” link at the top of the home page of the website ( www.sewellparkacademy.co.uk)
d) Access to electronic devices and the internet
Our IT team have spent the past two days organising and arranging for electronic devices for families who have requested these. If a student is in need of an electronic device to access the remote learning, please contact the school office on 01603 411721 or email@example.com. We should also be able to provide dongles if students do not have access to the internet although these may take a week or so to come through.
e) Assemblies and Form Tutor contact
In order to continue with all aspects of education at Sewell Park, students will receive a weekly assembly on a Monday, followed by a ‘live’ session with their form tutor on a Wednesday at 2.45 pm.
Form tutors will also be making contact with students or parents within a fortnightly cycle. This will be to support students and families during the lockdown and to discuss any issues or problems with the remote learning provision. If you have any questions at any point, please do not hesitate to contact the school. The Heads of Year are available by phone and email for specific pastoral concerns and support.
f) Safeguarding of students
Should you have any safeguarding concerns regarding your child or wish to update the safeguarding team during the forthcoming weeks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to report a safeguarding concern directly to Children's Services, call 0344 800 8020 Mon-Fri 8am-8pm. In an emergency, please call 999.
g) Year 9-11 Parents evening consultations
Prior to the Christmas holiday, Mr Woods, Assistant Headteacher, wrote to you all regarding the manner in which we would be delivering the traditional parent consultation for ‘parents evenings’. Due to this recent announcement, we will be delaying the Year 9-11 parents consultation with form tutors by one week.
Therefore, parents will be contacted to discuss academic progress with form tutors, alongside their current SARs reports, within a two week period beginning Monday 18th January.
h) Public Examinations and results
Last night the Government stated that they did not think that the current examinations set for the summer could go ahead as initially planned. The Department of Education gave the following statement:
“We do not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly”
Firstly, this is not complete clarification that all examinations in the summer will not take place. Alongside this, we still do not know in what form the assessment of students will take place. You will be all too aware of the national concerns raised during last summer's awarding of grades, and the Government, together with Ofqual, will be looking to address these. Therefore, it is essential that all students, particularly Year 11, continue to engage fully with all aspects of their learning, as we do not know what evidence or methodology will be used. As soon as we have information, we will communicate clearly with you all.
At the time of writing, the Department of Education has stated that the January examinations will go ahead. Therefore, Year 10 students taking their BTEC Music examination on Thursday 7th January, and Year 11 students taking their OCR National Sport Studies examination on Monday 11th January, will be expected to attend for these. We will update these students and parents specifically regarding these arrangements and any changes.
i) Mass Testing of students and staff in educational settings
Initially, the Government was planning for all students to be tested twice on their return to school using the Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), alongside the weekly testing of staff, in order to find asymptomatic cases of infection and reduce the transmission of the Coronavirus. The planning and initialisation of this has taken place at Sewell Park and the Government has asked that this takes place on the return to school of students, after February half term or at a future date if this is the case.
I will be writing to you all this week specifically about the testing process and outline the details involved, both from us as a school, the Department of Education and the NHS. This will outline the process, the rationale for testing and the benefits to safety of all within our community. There will be some documentation which will be required to be returned for students to be tested and please contact us, having read the details, if you would like to discuss any aspects further. We will then plan for testing to begin for the staff and students attending school during this half term, those children of Critical Workers and vulnerable students.
j) Positive cases of COVID-19
In order for us to support our community, we would ask that, although students are, in most cases, not attending school in person this half term, please inform us of any positive cases of COVID-19. As a school, our role is to support our students and families during this time, so please do not hesitate if you require any additional support.
k) We are in the process of setting up a student app for Android & IOS which will allow students to check such things as their timetables, live lessons etc. Please ask your child to check their school emails over the next few days for instructions on how to set this up along with usernames. Students will be able to choose their own password but we would suggest they use the same password as their school log in. We are also looking into a parent app but this may take a little longer. We will keep you up to date on the progress of this.
I apologise for the length of this communication, but it is important that all of the details are clear in these present times. I would also like to thank you all, as parents and carers, for your efforts over the past year. The challenges of the transition to and from remote learning, as well as supporting our students has been vital in their development over this time. At Sewell Park, all members of staff hope that we can have students return to full time education as soon as it is safe to do so. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns during this time.
I wish all members of our community - students, parents/carers and staff remain safe and well during this time.